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Foreign Minister meets SAARC counterparts in New York

Sri Lanka is keen to assist the new Government of Nepal by sharing its expertise in the fields of health, education and investment promotion stated, Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama, when he met Nepal's recently appointed Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav on Monday in New York.

Minister Bogollagama elaborated on the operations of Sri Lanka's Board of Investment which he pointed out is an autonomous body and a one-stop shop for facilitating investments to Sri Lanka.

In this regard, he invited the Nepalese Government to study the legal provisions on which the BOI had been established.

They referred to recent negotiations aimed at concluding a bilateral Air Services Agreement and expressed the hope that it would reach finality early with a view to strengthening connectivity between the two capitals.

Connectivity was recognized as a core area of focus even in the context of SAARC. The two Ministers exchanged views on terrorism re-surfacing in the region posing a major challenge. They reiterated the need for close cooperation in this area both bilaterally and regionally. Minister Bogollagama extended an invitation to his counterpart to visit Sri Lanka at an early opportunity.

Minister Bogollagama sought his counterpart's assistance in securing land for the construction of a Sri Lankan monastery and a Pilgrims Rest in Lumbini.

Foreign Minister Bogollagama also met with U Nyan Win, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar. They discussed food security as an area of major concern globally and in this context exchanged views on the manner in which Myanmar could share its knowledge on technological transfer related to cultivation methods.

Further, they exchanged views on the provision of subsidized fertiliser for agriculture and noted that Myanmarwas a major producer of low cost fertiliser.

The Minister conveyed Sri Lanka's gratitude to the Myanmar Government for readily providing 100,000 MT of rice earlier this year to bridge the deficit of its local production.

Considering the historical ties between Sri Lankaand Myanmar it was agreed to exchange high level visits.

Thereafter, Minister Bogollagama went on to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan Lyonpo Ugyen.

He pointed out the need for a more structured engagement with Bhutan.

In this context the Bhutanese Foreign Minister requested for officials to be sent to draft a schedule of sectoral cooperation in areas including motor mechanics, hospitality and hotel management training, human resources development etc.

They discussed recent development in Bhutan in particular its transition to democratic governance.

In the context of regional cooperation, the establishment of the Secretariat of the SAARC Development Fund in Thimpu was discussed.

The initial steps taken in this regard by Bhutan were acknowledged by Minister Bogollagama.

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